Scripture Reflections

April 22: Wednesday of the Second Week of Easter

Posted by Campus Ministry on April 22, 2020 at 6:04 AM PDT

 A flock of birds over a stand of trees set against an overcast sky.

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“Go…and tell the people everything about this life.” There is no stopping the Spirit of God.

I find today's first reading quite humorous, mostly because it goes into such detail! As I read the passage, I imagine the apostles escaping from their jail cell, walking out through the doors, seemingly right in front of the guards. The next day, totally unbeknownst to them, the guards are standing in front of a jail cell that is empty! When the court officers report back that the apostles are missing, everyone seems bewildered. In the meantime, the apostles are wasting no time sharing the good news with the people of the town.

There is no stopping the Spirit of God. God wants to get the message out and is not going to be thwarted by the powers that be who try to keep the words of liberation at bay. The first few words of our Gospel story are some of the most well-known lines in the Bible. God so loved the world. Perhaps this is what the apostles were proclaiming to the people in the temple area. The Resurrection reveals that God didn’t, and still doesn’t, respond to us with vengeance or disappointment, but with great love. This love is magnanimous and abundant. It is a love that moves us and awakens us. And this love finds its way to the far reaches of our world and the far reaches of our hearts. There is no one who remains outside of God’s embrace.

The depth and breadth of God’s love brings about new life. It is a life lived in the light. And it’s true, the darkness can pervade our hearts. It can turn us away from living as the people God calls us to be. Yet, through God’s help, and not solely on our own doing, we keep turning towards the light. We are on a journey where we are always becoming. We let God transform us, freeing us from the darkness that grips us, so that we may be formed as disciples ever willing to be an instrument of, and witness to, God’s grace.

God so loves the world, and God loves the world through us. We are the Body of Christ, meaning that God’s love is experienced tangibly through our expression of love, compassion, encouragement, and care. The psalmist proclaims, “The Lord hears the cry of the poor.” We are called to hear and respond to those most in need. In his book, Tattoos on the Heart, Fr. Greg Boyle writes, “God is compassionate, loving kindness. All we’re asked to do is to be in the world who God is” (62).

May we today, continue to open ourselves towards that which offers light and life. May we today, be bearers of light for those who cry out in need. May we recognize that we don’t travel this path of discipleship alone, but that we do so with each other and with God by our side.

 

Megan Kush, Campus Minister for Pastoral Care 

April 21: Tuesday of the Second Week of Easter

Posted by Campus Ministry on April 21, 2020 at 6:04 AM PDT

A bee is perched on a yellow and red flower.

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We look back on this description of the community in Jerusalem as idyllic. “The community of believers was of one heart and mind." So difficult to imagine! It is rare that in even our own selves we experience perfect coherence between our hearts and minds! There is a famous expression: the longest journey is between the head and the heart. It sounds like the members of the early Christian community were making this journey.

This bears scrutiny, especially in this time when so many people have such urgent needs—in the essential areas of life: health care, food, work and safety. The early Christians shared the needs evenly, some people giving up their possessions and privilege to make sure others had what they needed. Their premise was that there is always enough for all. Let’s be honest: this community did believe that, within their lifetimes, Christ would return to transform their lives. It took a while for folks to reflect on the truth that the Christian community would go on beyond their own lives and that, in fact, their lives were already transformed by the resurrection.

This paradox of the ‘already and not yet’ is why the early Christian community still inspires us. The love they shared translated into the sharing of what was essential—food, safety, shelter—even when they didn’t know what the future would bring. Our commitment to following Christ is a commitment to the journey between the head and heart. Out of an abundance of love, the early Christians sacrificed their own needs to share with each other. We can follow their way right now, each of us experiencing the sacrifice in a different way. For some it is the sacrifice of isolation, for others, money, direct service to the sick and suffering, giving time with those who are lonely, advocacy to our elected officials for those most in need... We, like the early church, do this not for ourselves, in the end, but for an unknown future lived in hope and faith in the resurrection and the promise of new life.

 

 

Tammy Liddell, Director of Campus Ministry

April 20: Monday of the Second Week of Easter

Posted by Campus Ministry on April 20, 2020 at 6:04 AM PDT

a view of a body of water between mountains on a dark and cloudy evening

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Sometimes it’s hard to keep the faith in times such as these, as we bear witness to all that is happening around us.  Sometimes it’s hard to believe in God when it feels like COVID keeps winning. Stuck at home yet again, another zoom call, another class lecture interrupted by janky wifi, another bowl of frosted flakes, another bored child or sibling wanting us to entertain and keep their attention, another paper or email I have to write when I can’t seem to focus.  And worse yet, another job lost, another life lost, and health professionals and essential employees risking their lives. Real people, real families, not just news reports.  Another, another, another.  And yet, in the midst of all this uncertainty and for many of us, our very ordinary and monotonous existence, there are signs of God’s activity and presence in the world and there is hope.  What I am suggesting, then, is that it is possible for us as people of God to hold the tension of belief and unbelief, of sorrow and joy, of despair and hopefulness. Like the father who asks Jesus to heal his demon-possessed child in Mark chapter 9, we cry out to Jesus, Lord, we believe, help our unbelief!

Maybe some of us are like Nicodemus who we learn about in today’s reading, in the third chapter of John’s Gospel. Nicodemus who recognizes that Jesus comes from God and is with God because he has performed so many signs and wonders, this Nicodemus who still has many doubts.  Many of us have approached this idea of God with a certain level of skepticism and our belief and faith waxes and wanes as life has had its way with us, as we deal with the profundities of life. Sometimes it seems like God is active and present, as Nicodemus seems to offer us, but other times it feels like we are all alone. It doesn’t make sense. What does it mean to be born again? How can I be born twice? No no, what does it really mean?  What difference does being born again make in my life and the lives of those who believe?

Some of us approach God in our dark nights of the soul because we want to believe and perhaps like Nicodemus the Pharisee, with all our learning and education, we question the Lord and we doubt.  Or perhaps under the cloak of darkness, we admit there may be something to this Jesus, something that feels right, that stirs our spirit to belief and action, but we are too ashamed to share with our friendship groups, our family, and our classmates that there is something real here. Certainly, this Jesus must come from God.  We know Jesus is God, in fact, but we are too ashamed to say we are Christians. Some of us don’t want to use that phrase “born again” with all its negative connotations of fundamentalism and right-wing beliefs, of keeping gay folks in the closet and women chained to the kitchen, barefoot and pregnant. We don’t want to be associated with those types of born-again believers.

But to be born again means we set aside preconceived notions of who gets in the Kingdom and who doesn’t. Being born again means we set-aside human labels that we ascribe to others who we don’t like, or who we blame, or who we don’t want to help. Being born again is a spiritual rebirth that is not subject to any human sense of time or place and to me that is good news because it means at any moment, we can accept God’s invitation. It means that no matter how many times we mess up or how often we have doubts about where God is in the midst of all this chaos, we can also have hope. We always have a fresh start, we are always renewed, and our faith will always be deepened if we trust in God.  Being born again in the spirit doesn’t seem to make sense, but neither does God’s unending, far-reaching, and deep love for us. And so on today I pray that through our spiritual rebirth God’s grace and transformative love would spread throughout this world through our actions, thoughts, and deeds.

 

 

Rev. Victoria Carr-Ware, Ecumenical and Multifaith Campus Minister 

Second Sunday of Easter (Sunday of Divine Mercy)

Posted by Campus Ministry on April 19, 2020 at 6:04 AM PDT

April 17: Friday in the Octave of Easter

Posted by Campus Ministry on April 17, 2020 at 6:04 AM PDT

“I am going fishing…” I have always imagined Peter saying those words with a sigh and sunken shoulders, feeling a bit defeated by his attempt at discipleship, burdened by his betrayal of Jesus, self-critical over his continual misunderstanding of Jesus’ message, and resigned to retreat to his former life, catching fish. Yet today I hear it in a different way. What if there is some excitement in his tone, some lilt in his step, even an exclamation point on the phrase: “I am going fishing!” You see, for the previous two stories in John’s gospel, Peter has been in a sort of self-quarantine: gathered with the community of first disciples, yes, but locked up behind closed doors out of fear of the religious authorities. Now, perhaps finally trusting and activating the Spirit’s breath of life and reconciliation and mission bestowed by the risen Christ, he’s back in the world and yearning for something familiar, something “normal.” So it’s easy for me to imagine him energized by the smell and sound and spray of the sea, the mystery of the dark expanse of sky, the thrill of lowering the nets into the deep, the companionship in the boat. And yet, their normal way of doing things ends up being quite unproductive, unfulfilling… until the stranger on the shore suggests going about their familiar routines in a slightly different way.

As I write this, there’s a lot of speculation and planning—unsurprisingly even heated discourse—around how fast we might “re-open our country,” never mind who will control it and by what authority. Clearly, there are vital considerations and ethical dilemmas imbedded in these issues: who will benefit, and who will suffer, and how will our actions affect those who are most vulnerable?

One way another, sooner or later, the day will come when we will be able to return to our “normal” life, and I expect we’ll be excited to go about our familiar routines once again, like Peter: “I am going to work!” “I am taking the kids to school!” “I am going to class – in a classroom!” However, I suspect that we will quickly discover that we will have to go about things differently—casting the nets over the other side of the boat, so to speak. It’s hard to say exactly what that will look like right now, but this gospel assures us that when the time comes, the risen Christ will direct us and nourish us.

I find that it’s better not to live too far in the future these days, and it’s Easter after all, so this scripture’s good news is also for us today, wherever we find ourselves. This story, like other resurrection stories, reminds us that the risen Christ is not obvious. That stranger on the shore ends up being the Lord! Most every time Jesus appears to disciples after being raised from the dead, they need to look again or look more closely. It takes a minute. If you’re not quite perceiving where the risen Christ is today, be gentle with yourself. Then look again. And again. But keep looking. As for those first disciples, Jesus will appear. There will be rejoicing. There will be abundance. There will be a charcoal fire prepared for breakfast.

 

Bill McNamara, Campus Minister for Liturgical Music